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Teacher Lesson Return to "My Looking-Glass Self"
My Looking-Glass Self
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The Looking-Glass Self

Before you give this lesson, start collecting clothes and accessories to use as props—hats, scarves, ties, glasses, jewelry, and all sorts of clothes.

Reading and Discussion: 20 minutes
Have the group read “My Looking Glass Self” by Anonymous. Ask them to restate the concept of the looking-glass self (you behave differently based on how you think others see you). Does that seem true to them? Ask them how the writer used to look (like a thug or gangbanger) and what he looks like at the end of the story (a young businessman). What, specifically, does he mention changing about his appearance?

Role-play: 45 minutes
Ask everyone (or just a few volunteers) to think about who they would like to be in their adult lives. Then ask them to go through the pile of props and clothes and find clothes or an item that reflect that future self. Send them somewhere private to change and invite them back one by one, but tell them they only need to put on one item if that can convey the character (e.g., a fedora or high heels or a suit jacket). Tell them to move and speak like the character they dress as, and have the rest of the group ask questions of the character for 5-10 minutes apiece. Note if the dressed-up volunteer gets more into her character when others are responding to her—that’s the looking-glass self in action.

Let as many youth as time permits dress up and be interviewed. When each group interview is done, have the interviewers go around and describe who the interviewee seemed to be.

Discussion: 15 minutes
At the end, leave time for the group to discuss how it felt to dress like those different people and to be treated like them too. Ask if they can see making any adjustments to their own appearance for any situation. Can you change your appearance and still be true to yourself?
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